Montessori Mathematics Materials Parents Session

Feedback from some of our parents who attended the Montessori Mathematics Material Parents Session:

“It was really interesting to see the progression from Nido to High School and see how hands on the teaching and learning of mathematics is the whole way through. The resources are great - the way they build on from previous knowledge and engage the child/children in mindful maths lessons is wonderful. Loved getting more of an insight into Stage 1 maths to be able to support my daughter at home too.” 

“On Wednesday I found the Montessori Maths sessions held by all stage teachers very informative and they gave me an important insight into the students learning methods on a day to day basis. It was nice to see the methodology behind the philosophy. It gave me a useful understanding so that when I need to discuss Maths with my son I have a solid reference point from a student’s perspective. Thank you to the Teachers for taking the time to show us Montessori Maths.” 

“All the different materials presented throughout the stages was very interesting. The teachers thoroughly explained how each new component is introduced. The hands-on materials really gives the child a good knowledge of how to complete the different topics that they have to cover and the repetition makes certain that it becomes concrete in their minds”. 

“Last Wednesday I attended an informative maths materials demonstration which showcased how mathematical concepts are progressively explored from Stage 1 to Stage 4. The teachers comprehensively demonstrated static and dynamic examples of addition using the small bead frame, multiplication with the checker board, division with racks and tubes, equivalent fractions with wooden skittles and solving for an unknown (algebra) with red and blue tiles. It was very interesting to see how the sensory application of concrete materials develops into the abstract. I look forward to the next information session.” 

“I really enjoyed the mathematics material session. It was an eye-opener for how complex mathematics operations can be broken down into visual clues, adding to true learning and understanding of mathematics in an age appropriate way. At some stage I felt as if a magician was handling the material showing the true results at the end, which initially, I thought cannot be achieved with these simple and well designed materials. Well done!” 

“It was very interesting and completely new to me. It was fascinating to see how the Montessori method can transform abstract concepts into concrete and hands-on materials, which are more effective for the kids to learn and more fun for them as well.” 

Nido (Long Day Care) News

This term we were inspired by the recent Montessori Conference, held in Queensland, that focused on play.  When we think of play in a traditional setting we define it as “having fun”, “being with friends” or “not working”.  In Montessori environments we turn that idea on its head and say that work is play and play is work!  While reflecting on this we have changed our morning work cycle this term and have opened the outdoor and indoor environments to the children.  We encourage the children to access all areas of the classroom and the freedom to move between the two learning environments.  Maria Montessori herself said:

Let the children be free; encourage them; let them run outside when it is raining; let them remove their shoes when they find a puddle of water; and when the grass of the meadows is wet with dew, let them run on it and trample it with their bare feet; let them rest peacefully when a tree invites them to sleep beneath its shade; let them shout and laugh when the sun wakes them in the morning.

Maria Montessori “The Discovery of the Child”, Ballantine Books, 1972, page 71

While trailing this new approach we noticed that the children easily fall back into our old routine of working inside after morning tea, this might be in part due to the Sensitive Period of Order that starts at around the age of 2.  This is characterised by a desire for consistency and repetition and a passionate love for established routines. The children are happiest when the environment is carefully ordered with a place for everything and with established ground rules that are consistent and followed.

We are really enjoying the new routine and following the interests of the children, some children might spend the morning playing in the dirt, while others are busy grating cheese and spreading hummus.  We observe the children and ensure that they have a balanced morning where they are able to follow their own interests and develop new and emerging skills.

It truly is a pleasure to spend the morning with these delightful children, where no two days are the same!

OOSH News (Out of School Hours Care)

Elonera OOSH runs each school day from 3 to 5.30pm. We have a mix of children from Stages 1, 2 and 3. 

OOSH is a welcoming and friendly community where children can relax after the school day or play with their friends. A variety of activities are available. When indoors, children can read books, do creative writing, use play dough, do origami, colour in, do art or craft activities, play board games, play with construction materials or just rest. When outdoors they have access to the playground and some natural areas: the garden, trees, sandpit, rock and pebble area and in warm weather they can play with water. They also have sandpit toys, toy trucks, cardboard, skipping ropes, balls and parachutes. Activities that are also popular are soccer, handball, cricket, tip, and hide and go seek.  

Around 4pm children have afternoon tea which consists of fruit and a snack. The children help with the preparation of the fruit each day. 

While we promote attitudes and behaviour of mutual respect, we emphasise free and self-directed play, including possibilities for open-ended play with 'loose materials' such as balls, cardboard, the 'hill', ropes, parachutes, natural objects, water etc. These can all be used for a variety of purposes and stimulate imaginative and inventive thinking. Cardboard never loses its popularity, being used for cubby making, skiing down the hill and other activities. Recently a child used skipping ropes to tie a parachute on the top of the fort as a hammock. For the whole of the afternoon he was visited by children who took turns to sit inside it, sometimes as many as four at once. A large soft fall area is available for active games involving balls, chasing, or imaginary dramatic or action games. A popular game at the moment is 'Capture the Flag' in which two teams attempt to capture an object in each other's territory. Organised by a few of the older children, it is played with great energy and enthusiasm by children of all ages. If there is a windfall of branches in the park we collect those and make cubbies. We have a couple of benches with chairs and some garden spaces where small groups may play or chat. We are always impressed by how well the children treat each other and organise themselves, needing minimal help to remind them of appropriate behaviour or to solve problems.  

Access to nature is promoted as we can see that this helps the children to feel integrated, happy and settled in themselves. They have an innate desire to interact with the natural world physically, emotionally and intellectually, displaying great curiosity about the life around them. They play with bugs, watch lizards and point out the nesting corellas or quietly resting tawny frogmouths in the trees. They understand not to injure the creatures and that everything has its place. ‘Hand washes’ have been made using lavender and other herbs in the garden. Garden rocks are organised into a variety of imaginative games. The children love mixing water with earth and making ‘utensils’, ‘food’ or other shapes and we have provided them with river stones (from Alena’s place) to grind and make ‘paint’ which decorates skin and rocks.

It is evident to us that while the children are having fun they are also working intently on a variety of developmental skills. Research has been done on the importance of play in promoting healthy child development. Kenneth R Ginsburg in his article: The Importance of Play in Promoting Healthy Child Development and Maintaining Strong Parent-Child Bonds (Pediatrics: the official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics. 2007), stated that “play (or some available free time in the case of older children and adolescents) is essential to the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being of children and youth”. He added the following points:

  • “It is through play that children at a very early age engage and interact in the world around them. Play allows children to create and explore a world they can master, conquering their fears while practising adult roles, sometimes in conjunction with other children or adult caregivers.
  • As they master their world, play helps children develop new competencies that lead to enhanced confidence and the resiliency they will need to face future challenges.
  • Undirected play allows children to learn how to work in groups, to share, to negotiate, to resolve conflicts, and to learn self-advocacy skills.
  • When play is allowed to be child driven, children practise decision-making skills, move at their own pace, discover their own areas of interest, and ultimately engage fully in the passions they wish to pursue.
  • In contrast to passive entertainment, play builds active, healthy bodies. In fact, it has been suggested that encouraging unstructured play may be an exceptional way to increase physical activity levels in children, which is one important strategy in the resolution of the obesity epidemic.
  • Perhaps above all, play is a simple joy that is a cherished part of childhood.”
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IB News

CAS in Focus

Olivia Folino Gallo took part in the World's Greatest Shave on 14 March 2018 for the Leukaemia Foundation. She was hoping to raise $2000 before then which will assist Australian families facing blood cancer the emotional and practical support they need. Blood cancer claims more lives than breast cancer or melanoma. And today another 35 people will be given the devastating news they have leukaemia, lymphoma, myeloma or another blood disorder. Olivia’s CAS experience raised over $1500 which is a remarkable achievement as $53 alone ensured someone being treated in hospital got a personal visit from a highly-trained health professional so they get the extra support they need.

Chanelle Caires spent several weeks organising a Beach Clean Up for one of her CAS experiences last Term. This event took place on Clean Up Australia Day on Friday 2nd of March at North Wollongong Beach. It was a successful afternoon with Stage 4 and 5 students collecting more than 4 woven garbage bags full of waste that would have ended up in our ocean and local swimming spots. The plastic waste collected will be recycled by Stage 4 students and recreated into plastic sculptures for their Sustainable Change Visual Arts Unit. It is wonderful to see our Year 11 students already taking on such beneficial CAS experiences and directly relating these to Global Issues on a local scale, Chanelle is to be commended on organising such a fantastic event.

"It was obvious that the students were surprised as to how much garbage was found and proud of themselves for collecting a considerable amount. It was extremely rewarding to see the students having fun whilst involved in the activity and also to see the immense amount of waste removed off our shores.

I hope that this has raised awareness for the students and will prevent future littering in our school community." - Chanelle Caires

Christy was very busy last term organising two First Aid courses through NSW TAFE for one of her CAS experiences. The first one took place at Elonera at the end of Week 10, which involved IB students and some of our teachers staying back after school from 3.15 - 7.15pm on Thursday 5th and Friday 6th April. This has been a wonderful opportunity for our students to complete certified First Aid, asthma and anaphylactic training. These skills could potentially one day save a life. I would like to thank Christy for all of her hard work in organising these events, it has been very much appreciated. The second course took place during the last week of term 1 for EMS staff.

Last term one of our Year 11 students Heather, entered the Cambridge Immerse 2018 Essay competition in Philosophy as a CAS experience. I have just been informed that Heather won this competition!! The Cambridge Immerse Global Leadership Programme is a unique one week multidisciplinary academic summer course designed by leading experts at the UK’s top universities including the University of Cambridge. Heather will be introduced to a variety of different disciplines allowing scope for discussion and debate during this leadership summer course. She will develop the leadership skills whilst forming her own opinions about the world around her.

The expert academic team at Cambridge have designed this leadership programme which imparts both specialist knowledge and theoretical frameworks, equipping participants with the skills needed to succeed in future leadership roles. The Global Leadership summer course will provide future leaders with an unparalleled insight into the global social, political, and economic issues that the modern world is faced with. Heather will learn to analyse and assess current affairs and global challenges through the lens of a variety of disciplines: modern political theory, international relations, philosophy, economics, and geography. I would like to congratulate Heather on this outstanding achievement and wish her all the very best for the upcoming Cambridge Global Leadership Programme that is set to take place from 1st - 7th July this year.

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The Young Endeavour Youth Scheme is a not for profit organisation which provides young Australians with a unique, challenging and inspirational experience at sea. The voyages increase self awareness, develop teamwork and leadership skills and create a strong sense of community responsibility amongst members of the youth crew. The Scheme began when the magnificent sail training ship STS Young Endeavour was given to the people of Australia by the United Kingdom as a Bicentennial gift back in 1988. Since then, the Scheme, in partnership with the Australian Government and the Royal Australian Navy, has provided challenging training voyages for over 12,000 young Australians aboard Young Endeavour. Young Endeavour undertakes around 20 voyages each year, mostly along the east and south coasts of Australia. Each voyage we embark 24 young Australians - the youth crew - and nine specially trained Royal Australian Navy crew, usually for an eleven day adventure at sea. Heather has recently found out that her application to set sail on the Young Endeavour later this year as part of her CAS has been accepted and we wish her the experience of a lifetime with this journey!!

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Morning tea with the thinkers

During Week 4 lasty Term our Year 11 Psychology class took part in a morning tea with the thinkers. Pavlov, Loftus, Ainsworth and Milgram were all in attendance. Great knowledge of the thinkers and interesting conversations were shared by all. Thank you Alex for putting on such a wonderful event for these students.

DP Visual Arts

Year 11 and 12 Visual Art students took part in a photoshoot at Belmore Basin last term during Week 6 for Visual Arts, which was designed to develop their practical skills in digital photography and allow students to establish their own contexts, conceptual development and intentions in their art-making practice. This excursion enhanced students regular classroom experience currently based on identities and relationships of human beings with their valued possessions in a global world, some of these images have been edited to produce final images for this unit.

Harmony Day in the IB

Our IB students were in for a treat on Harmony Day this year with Japanese University exchange students running afternoon workshops teaching DP students how to write their names in calligraphy and playing one of their favourite sports dodgeball. An enjoyable afternoon was had by all concluding with the whole school Harmony Day celebration in the hall where our IB students hung their harmony reflections written on ivy leaves. It was nice to see the IB mission statement in action where students promoted a better and more peaceful world living in harmony with each other.

High School News

Maria Montessori's vision of the adolescent holds that  "Education should therefore include the two forms of work, manual and intellectual, for the same person, and thus make it understood by practical experience that these two kinds complete each other and are equally essential to a civilized existence." (From Childhood to Adolescence, p. 65)

"If puberty is on the physical side a transition from an infantile to an adult state, there is also, on the psychological side, a transition from the child who has to live in a family, to the man who has to live in society . These two needs of the adolescent: for protection during the time of the difficult physical transition, and for an understanding of the society which he is about to enter to play his part as a man. (From Childhood to Adolescence, p. 60)

We have 34 students in our High School from Years 7-10 and term 1 has been an incredibly full term with ample opportunity for our students to find their place in the world.

In most recent weeks, we have played host to 28 students and their teachers for Harmony Day. The students came to us from a university outside of Tokyo and the High Schoolers catered their lunch as well as took part in coordinating Harmony Day activities across the school for the afternoon. Despite the challenges this entailed, the students stepped up to prepare, provide service and the all-important clean-up of the event. Because of their exposure to these opportunities in recent years, students have become quite adept at offering this very specific type of hospitality. 

There is an element of selflessness which this requires, seen most obviously in Elizabeth Goor's retirement event last week. Again, a small team of students prepared and set-up, cooked, served as well as cleaned up after the event. Many also performed musical items as a tribute to our founding Head of School....and all immediately after attending a 3-day camp.

Camp was spent from Monday to Wednesday at Killalea Reserve, Shellharbour. Again, organised by students, all transport was by foot or public transport, with Monday afternoon finding students on the Minnamurra River kayaking. Tuesday was spent hiking from Gerringong to Kiama along the coastal track with free time on Wednesday around the campsite and river before returning home. Many thanks to Lukas, Carlos and Madi who gave up their time over the three days to accompany students and who have passed on the positive comments from the public they encountered regarding the our students.

Congratulations to all our winners of the Easter raffle, organised by a pair of Stage 4 (Yr 7 and 8) Maths students, Kayla and Asher. The Stage 4 Maths program of study, whilst involving more traditional individual work, also incorporates various aspects of project and mentoring. The students were delighted to raise over $250 as part of the latter with thanks to the Guthrie family for their donation to Wollongong Children's Ward.

Alongside and amidst all of this the intellectual work continues. An ex-student, Tomer Svirsky, now in his final year of a Mechatronics degree, offered to present to the High School group on Waves. Students were captivated and entertained for over an hour. Year 9 and 10 students investigate a number of Elective studies including Woodwork, Photography and Digital Media,  Commerce and Philosophy. We also have 2 students studying a language externally. Philosophy has seen us share thoughts on the stories of Philosophy including works by Wittgenstein, Plato, Nagel and  the dilemma of the Trolley Problem. Most recently, we are exploring the Nature of Self before embarking on an understanding of the complexities of Ethics next term and the practical implications for our notions of service to the world.

But amongst all of this is much laughter and enjoyment. It is not unusual to hear students singing and laughing during breaks, quite unselfconsciously (most of them) and we as teachers are often taken aback by their offers to help out or somehow assist. We are not deluded to consider that these children are by any means perfect, but they are excellent company, kind to each other and have a well preserved love of learning, qualities which are sure to serve them well in the future as they make and take their place in the world.

Alexandra Ioannou
High School Coordinator

Stage 3 News

Projects
This term’s focus for projects has been Botany. Children have worked hard to research their chosen plant, looking at common and botanical names, classifications, animal interactions, and historic and current use by people. This term’s format for projects is a poster with written paragraphs and an annotated diagram, which is presented by each child to the class. Research projects in Stage 3 incorporate many skills across subject areas, including library and internet research, summarising, paraphrasing and synthesising information, handwriting, drawing and oral presentation. The children have done really well with their work and are very proud of their efforts.

International Women’s Day
Across Week 6 and 7 Stage 3 has celebrated International Womens’ Day, starting with the feature shown on Behind the News (BTN) and a discussion around women’ rights through history and around the world. We also had a range of activities, including writing a letter to a woman who is inspirational to you, making a comic strip featuring a female lead character, and making a mind map about how to combat issues that are facing women around the world. Finally, children chose a woman from history to be the focus of a short biography. Children explained the accomplishments of their chosen person, how they came to find their passion and the obstacles they had to overcome, and why they are inspirational to others.
 
International Mother Tongue Day
In Week 4 we enjoyed celebrating Mother Tongue Day! We had a great feast with children bringing in a dish from their cultural background, which we shared as part of a big lunch celebration. We also looked at the world map and tagged all of the places in the world that we, as a class, have cultural connections to, which prompted great discussions.
 
Garden and fruit trees
With the start of the New Year and the start of Autumn our garden has continued to do well! Our summer crops of zucchini, corn and tomatoes are winding down, and we have sown new crops of greens, lettuce and herbs. We used our massive quantities of basil, zucchini and tomatoes to make delicious pasta sauce, with groups taking turns to harvest and prepare. We have also purchased a dozen fruit trees that we have planted in large pots on the concreted area outside of Stage 3 and the library. The children are very excited to be harvesting mulberries, mangoes, passionfruits and nectarines in coming years!

Creative Arts
This term we have a focus on Visual Arts and Music. In Art, we have made looms and are learning weaving, with the aim of creating beautiful weavings to hang in our new space. Children have been enjoying making pom poms and tassels to attach to their weavings, with some challenging themselves to make complicated pom poms in the form of fruits, flowers and even eyeballs! In Music we are practicing singing, learning about the parts of a song and having a great time.

Harmony Day - Everyone Belongs - 21st March 2018

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21 March is Harmony Day

Our diversity makes Australia a great place to live. Harmony Day is a celebration of our cultural diversity – a day of cultural respect for everyone who calls Australia home.

The message of Harmony Day is everyone belongs, the Day aims to engage people to participate in their community, respect cultural and religious diversity and foster sense of belonging for everyone.

We would like to invite our families to join us on the 21st March at 2:30 pm (in the courtyard, weather permitting) to celebrate Harmony Day. All welcome!

 

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Stage 2 News

Classroom Rules and “Charter of Respect” 
The students in Stage 2 have been off to a great start this year. They were all enthusiastic to be reunited with their peers after such a long break. The children were also keen to share all the exciting things they experienced during their five week holiday with both their friends and teachers.
The beginning of a new year can sometimes be a bit daunting for some children, especially those who are new, however the children have settled into their classroom routines beautifully. It’s lovely to see. We would like to give a warm welcome to all the new families to Stage 2. Term 1 began with all the children and teachers working collaboratively on their classroom expectations followed by everyone signing the Elonera ‘Charter of Respect’. Once all the children understood and signed it, the ‘Charter of Respect’ was framed and displayed in each classroom.

International Mother Tongue Day
On February 21 we celebrated Mother Tongue Day. This annual day is an opportunity to promote multiculturalism and raise awareness of cultural and linguistic diversity within our classroom and the community at large.
Children in Primary were asked to bring in a dish of food related to their cultural heritage. Countries that were represented included Canada, China, Germany, Greece, Italy and the U.K., among many others. Each class had its own banquet comprised of these delicious dishes. There were many interesting discussions about the heritage of various foods and we hope that the children gained a fresh insight into the cultural value of different national meals. 
 
Swimming
This term, our students have been attending weekly swimming lessons at the University of Wollongong’s Aquatic Centre. Swimming is an important skill for children and it has been great to see the children improving their skills over the term, while also enjoying themselves. The pool instructors have been working with small groups of children to meet their individual needs. It has been great to see the children's enthusiasm so far and we look forward to more weeks of swimming.

Vegie Crunch
On Friday the 2nd of March, the students participated in the “Big Vegie Crunch”, promoted from the NSW Health. The purpose of this experience is to encourage and promote eating more vegetables in the children’s diet, including more vegetables in their lunchboxes. The students discussed the importance of having a nutritious diet, which includes a variety of vegetables. The children enjoyed bringing in, preparing and sharing a variety of vegetables with their class members for morning tea at 10am. During this time, the children shared the vegetable they had brought into school and were encouraged to try a variety of vegetables offered to them.

Writing Task: Informative Recounts and Imaginative Story Writing
The students began the term by writing “recounts” about what they did during their summer holidays. Some children were excited and happy to share their recounts with the class by reading them in front of the group. We have also been encouraging the children to further develop their writing skills through “imaginative story writing” and “sustained writing” activities. During sustained writing, the children have been working towards improving an area of their writing. Some examples might be to consistently use capital letters and full stops, or include more descriptive words in their writing.

Craft
This term the students have been enjoying participating in a variety of craft experiences. They have made flags for Australia day and discussed with their classes what it means to them to be living in Australia and how they celebrate this day. Students enjoyed creating hearts for Valentines Day, Back to School “mindfulness mandala colouring” and used their imaginations to create a visual representation of “summer”, using a variety of paints and brush sizes, for the last day of summer. The children have also been studying Expressionism. This art movement focuses on altering reality to express the artist's feelings by using different colours and shapes.

Nido News

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Welcome back to all of our families. It was amazing to see how all of the children grew over the holidays. It was so wonderful to watch their excited faces as they walked into the class and went about selecting their favourite piece of work. You could tell from their happy expressions as they worked, that they had missed being at school, as we had missed them.
 
The children in the Nido class as well as the rest of the school are always learning new words and expanding their vocabularies. One of the methods we use to do this is called a 3 period lesson. In this lesson, the teacher isolates a few new words or concepts that she wants the child to learn. This varies depending on the age and abilities of the child but in the Nido class it is usually 2 or 3 new words/concepts at a time. 
 
The first period is the introduction or naming period. During this part of the lesson we point to an object or picture and simply state what it is and ask the child to repeat what they have heard.  It is good to repeat the words a few times so you can be sure they absorbed the new vocabulary / concept.
 
The second period of the lesson relates to recognition and association. This is usually the fun part of the lesson. You can ask the child to 'Show me the triangle; Put the triangle on your lap; Put the triangle on your head, Try balance the triangle on your hand etc.' If the child picks up the incorrect item, then the teacher needs to go back to the first period. The first and second period need to be repeated a few times before moving onto the third period. 
 
The third period relates to recall. In this part of the lesson, we ask the child to name the object. For example, whilst pointing to the triangle, you ask the child 'What is this?'  As adults we are often in a rush to move onto the third period. We must be patient and only do it when we feel the child will succeed and the information is in their long term memory.  If we do this part of the lesson too soon, it puts the teacher in a position of correcting the child which can have a negative impact on the child's self-esteem. If the child does make a mistake, the teacher needs to go back to the first and second period. 
 
This method is very useful for parents at home and can be applied to anything you want your child to learn, for instance, learning body parts, colours, shapes, types of animals etc. Every time your child masters a new concept or skill, their desire to learn more increases. 

IB News

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It has been a very busy month for our IB students with Year 12 completing their final examinations, our High Tea Ceremony, the DP Graduation Dinner and our Try IB DP Transition Day. I would firstly like to say a big congratulations to the following Year 12 students who have now finished their Diploma Programme with us here at Elonera Montessori School; Gabrielle Ayoub, Lillian Douglas-Borkman, Lara Henderson, Jack Hopkins, Viliame Rabuatoka, Adrian Smark, Maira Sykes and Edan Woodward. On behalf of all of your IB teachers I wish you all the very best for your final results that are released in early January. This achievement was celebrated in the IB Suite on Friday 17th November for the 2017 Graduating Class High Tea, a momentous festivity hosted by our Year 10 students from the High School. We would like to thank Jacqui Sykes for once again making the beautiful bears that were given to our graduating students, Alex Ioannou for coordinating the event, her kind hearted speech brought many to tears, Holly Wilson for speaking on behalf of Year 11 and to Year 10 students for catering, decorating and hosting the afternoon. Without such a caring school community these events would not be possible.

On Saturday 18th November 64 parents, teachers, students and guests attended the Elonera Montessori School DP Graduation Dinner, which took place at North Wollongong Surf Club from 6.00pm. Year 12 students Maira Sykes and Gabrielle Ayoub organised the evening, their hard work and perseverance is to be commended. Maira was also the MC for the evening and speeches were given by Chris Peach, Benedicte Henry, Jordan on Behalf of Elizabeth Goor, Jack Hopkins and myself.

Last Monday 20th November we had our Try IB DP transition Day for Year 10 students who will begin their Diploma Programme next year. The day began with a warm welcome and overview of the IB followed by an ab initio French lesson where Benedicte Henry taught our prospective students how to make crepes and read a recipe in French before playing an outdoor game of petanque. Carlos Hubbard then ran a Group 4 lesson in the Sciences covering what it takes to falsify a theory, the lesson was based around evidence for evolution. Students then did a collaborative creative thinking project that was followed by Jack Hopkins discussing his Theory of Knowledge presentation and Viliame Rabuatoka talking about CAS and his Extended Essay experiences. Students were introduced to IB Approaches to Learning where they undertook critical thinking activities and workshops, actively demonstrating thinking, communication and social skills. We look forward to having these students join us in the IB suite in 2018 and thank them all for their valuable contributions on the transition day.

Elonera Robotics Club


Congratulations to our First Lego League Team ‘Croctopus’ for their performance at the Wollongong Regional Tournament! They were awarded the presentation award which recognises a team that effectively communicates their research problem and proposed solution to the judges. This is what the judges had to say about the team:
“The team presented in rules of eight
They dramatized and costumised to create
A production of Broadway renown
That will knock off your socks and leave you spellbound”
 
The team researched wasting water in the shower, and their proposed solution was an ‘Awesome Shower Water Recycling System’ or Awesome SWRS for short.
The team also did very well in the robot game coming in 9th overall. They displayed their ‘Gracious Professionalism’ when the robot didn’t quite behave as expected, and it was wonderful to see the team proactively come together and make last minute adjustments to the robot during their afternoon break.
We would love to see more kids participate next year!
 

Elonera Robotics Club

EMS robotics team Jellywhales competed in the Caringbah regional FLL tournament on Friday. They confidently presented the judges their research project, core values challenge and robot design. On the robot mission table they successfully completed several Hydro Dynamics missions, just missing out on the top score by 5 points.
It was a fun day representing EMS in the FIRST Robotics community and we wish team Croctopus top luck this weekend in the Wollongong regional.
A special thanks to Susan from Bright Star Kids for the incredible t-shirts with our custom logo and names.

Grandparent's Day Celebrations

Grandparents' Day
Elonera celebrated Grandparent's Day on Thursday, 9th November. A number of grandparents joined us for afternoon tea and tours of their grandchilren's classrooms. It is always such a pleasure to have this generation visit...there  is an added calm and easiness which is reassuring. A special thanks to all the High Schoolers who helped with the catering, particularly Jack and Hope who made tea and coffee for so many of our visitors across the school. To our setting up, washing up and clean-up groups, a sincere thanks for all that you contributed to making the afternoon run smoothly. 

Our trip to Rome and our visit to the first Montessori School


Our trip to Rome and the first Montessori School - The Fagnano Family
While visiting Rome this year we thought we'd try to find the first Montessori school established by Maria Montessori in 1907.

With address in hand we went walking around San Lorenzo in the hopes we would find it. It wasn't at all easy, and  making many wrong turns, as you can imagine the street signs are hardly visible and long faded with no numbers anywhere in sight. 

Just before throwing the towel in we asked a lady who pointed us in the right direction, finally we had arrived at this very discreet building that if it wasn't for a small sign we probably would have walked right past.

We walked inside a huge wooden door that gave way to a small corridor which then led to a beautiful courtyard, you could already imagine children playing here. We noticed an elderly man walking in with his shopping bags, we asked him where the school was? He showed us the entrance and added, "My daughter went to school here 30 years ago!" 

We met a teacher while she was giving a lesson, the children were inquisitive to know who these unexpected strangers were. The teacher told us everything is just as it was in the early days. There are 2 classrooms with about 20 children in each classroom. They have a vegetable garden and when the veggies are ripe they make a shared lunch together.

The building itself is very simple and the classrooms aren't big or very fancy but it felt like a very happy place, with the children working independently and looking after each other and their environment.

What an unforgettable experience, even with our sore legs!

The Fagnano Family

High School News

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Pizza oven
We have test started the oven..all working well and ready for the first cook-up. Mosaicing continues with all students expected to contribute in even a small part (after a great deal of discussion around the design).

Year 6 transition
It was delightful to have our Year 6 transitioning students join us. They joined in on lessons with Stage 4 (Year 7 and 8) and contributed strongly to Occupations. Positive and willing, they were very welcome and look forward to haven them full tim next year..

Year 5 joined us in the High School last Thursday. The focus of their morning was Maths and Science and we plan to follow up with a Humanities session in  a few weeks

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Showcase
All families are invited to save the date of the High School end of year showcase on Thursday 23rd  November between 9 and 11 am. Students will be showcasing their work across a range of different areas and we would love to have you (families of all stages and areas of the school) there in our audience. Feel free to stay for the whole or part of a session or just pop in for a cuppa.

Curriculum news
Despite the looming end of year celebrations, students are continuing to push forward in their learning. Students are preparing for showcases with a number of opportunities to hone public speaking skills in presentations and debating. Road safety, the Freedom Rides and stencil art are also being studied. Feminist philosophy has been our focus in Stage 5 with students also preparing a written response which presents a philosophical reading of a non-philosophcal text. A number of students are exploring imaginative texts writing some insightful pieces many in response to our thematic study on Home, Memories and Belonging. We hope to share these with you in future newsletters or at showcase. 

Work experience
A reminder to Year 10 students to submit their documentation if they hope to be involved in our work experience program this year. All documentation must be finalised this week if students are to take part. If not, the expectation is that students will remain at school for the week. 

Nido News

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Encouraging independence

One of the key elements in any Montessori class is to encourage our children to be independent and to do things for themselves. The Nido class is no different. We encourage them to do as many things for themselves as possible. This includes things like putting on and taking off their own socks and shoes; learning how to wash their hands; learning how to use and manage going to the toilet; putting on their own sunblock etc.   

There are a number of elements in the class that aid them to do things for themselves. Simple things like having low shelves that are at eye level for the children enable them to select their own piece of meaningful work. There are also steps for the children to stand on to be able to reach the taps and toilets easily. The mirrors are at the children’s height to enable them to look at themselves whilst applying their sunscreen. During morning tea time the children help set the table and are responsible for emptying their scraps in the bucket for the chickens, and then washing their own plate and glass. Likewise, if they select a practical life activity such as peeling a carrot, they wash up after themselves and place it back on the shelf ready for the next person. This not only encourages independence but also consideration of the other children in the class.

With all these activities the adults in the environment need to consistently allow the children time to do the activity. Children require repetition to learn so the adults should only step in and help the child if it is really needed. The result will not be the same as the adult’s standards, but the learning experience for the child is far more important than the end result.

Parents at home are encouraged to look for ways to allow their child to be independent and do things for themselves. Simple things like rearranging a few of your kitchen cupboards with plastic bowls and cereals low down will encourage your child to make and prepare their own breakfast. They can also help around dinner time by helping set the table and even some of the cooking like smashing the garlic in a pestle and mortar. Allowing them to use the vacuum, wipe the counters and mop the floor also helps lead them to independence. Sorting the laundry not only helps encourage independence but also improves their sorting and classification skills.  All of these things help foster a positive self-image and a sense of achievement. 

Primary News

Stage 2T and 2E News
 
In Stage 2, we have been discussing the importance of maintaining a healthy body through a nutritious diet, exercise, plenty of rest and sleep. We practice quiet mediation/mindfulness and relaxation with the students on a regular basis. We would like to remind and encourage all parents of the importance of consistent routines at home to ensure each student is well rested for their school days. It is extremely important for all children to have a nutritious diet and lunch boxes at school to ensure their energy levels can be maintained throughout the day. Please refer to the Parent Handbook on page 27 for a list of healthy snack and lunch ideas.
 
This term, the students have been discussing the EMS ‘Charter of Respect’, addressing the importance for each student to understand their role and responsibility as a member of our school and class. At the beginning of each year the students and teachers read over and sign the ‘Charter of Respect’ together. This document is also given out to families at the beginning of their enrolment. It is paramount that all parents to read the ‘Charter of Respect’ together with their child to ensure we continue to have positive relationships and consistency between the school and home environments. We have attached a copy of this for revision reading with your child.  We have also been discussing and reminding the students to look at our ‘THINK’ Before You Speak poster in each class when dealing with social situations. T- Is it TrueH- Is it Helpful, I- Is it Inspiring, N- Is it Necessary and K- Is it Kind.
 
A part of the Montessori philosophy is to foster and instill these items outlined in the ‘Charter of Respect’ through our ongoing grace and courtesy lessons during school time. Each class discusses their classroom rules on a daily basis, reflecting together about the day, sharing the great things from the day and the areas we could improve on. At the beginning of each week we have a class meeting to discuss items we may need to work on as a whole class and be mindful of for that week. Please see the below example:
 
We will be mindful to:

  • Remember quiet inside voices
  • Push chairs under
  • Use kind words
  • Walk inside the classroom

 
Another area we continue to work on with the students in Stage 2 is their independent skills and freedom within limits. We encourage the students to calmly enter their classroom space, greet their teachers and start to plan out their day. Over the three-hour work cycle the students have the freedom to move around their large classroom environment to complete work tasks. Students are given the freedom and opportunity to make their own choice about the order they complete these task and whether choosing to work with a partner for a particular job. However, if students forgot the classroom rules and the school’s ‘Charter of Respect’, then this freedom of choice will then be scaffold by the teacher to ensure the classroom is not disrupted and the student is supported to best suit their learning needs.  We give the students natural consequences if they are unable to follow the classroom rules.
“To let the child do as he likes when he has not yet developed any powers of control is to betray the idea of freedom.” Maria Montessori, The Absorbent Mind
Any true Montessori environment encourages children to move about freely and choose their own work within reasonable limits of appropriate behaviour.
“The liberty of the child ought to have as its limits the collective interest of the community in which he moves; its form is expressed in what we call manners and good behaviour. it is our duty then to protect the child from doing anything which may offend or hurt others, and to check the behaviour which is unbecoming or impolite. But as regards all else, every action that has a useful purpose, whatever it may be and in whatever forms it shows itself, ought not only to be permitted, but it ought to be kept under observation, that is the essential point.”  Maria Montessori, Discovery of the Child
 
Please click on the link to read in more detail freedom within limits in a Montessori environment.
https://livingmontessorinow.com/freedom-within-limits-in-montessori-education/
 
‘Elonera’ is an Aboriginal word that means, ‘a happy place for children’ and this is what we always aim for in our classes.
 
In art and craft, the students have been involved in a variety of fun craft experiences including; mandala pictures, Halloween masks, acrostic poems and spider paintings. They have also been creating art that have an Aboriginal perspective and learning about Pablo Picasso, creating artworks based around his ideas. We have been busy practicing our performance dance for the end of year concert in Week 8. Our theme is ‘Elvis Presley’ this year and notes for what to wear on the day will go out soon. On Tuesday the 31st students enjoyed having the opportunity to dress up for Halloween in their favourite costume and were encouraged to write a description about their costume, developing writing skills.
 
We would like to inform the families that swimming is now being held in Term 1, 2018 instead of this term. We will continue to practice our end of school performance for the remainder of this term.
 
Thank you,
Tracey and Erica
Stage 2 Directresses

Stage 3 has been working since before the holidays to design, construct and build some new garden beds in the front area outside their classroom. This new space will be open to the whole school as a community garden. We have already had contributions from Elliot and Raymond from the high school in helping us mulch the surrounding areas, thanks guys, much appreciated. We started the process with a big delivery of wood to the front area, which we quickly moved so we could start construction of five separate 2.4m by 1.2m by 0.6m garden beds. The students could not hide their enthusiasm for the project, as they didn’t want to stop or take a break until the job was done.

The construction started making five different beds with the hope to make enough space for the whole school to enjoy the space. The construction of the lower levels gave life to the children’s designs.

Once the soil was delivered, the children were at it again. Discussing strategies to get the best production going from shovels and buckets to the wheel-borrow. Working as a great team, they worked non-stop until playtime and a lunch break.

As these works were in play, other students were planning what we would grow, starting to germinate the seeds for planting. We have planted lettuce, spinach, carrots, strawberries, sunflowers, tomatoes, beetroots, zucchinis and herbs.  With the planting finished and the garden beds full, we needed to put some mulch down for the highly anticipated foot traffic that these garden beds are likely experience.

Over the break and first few weeks not much was happening we, made sure to water the beds every day. Currently we can see that the children’s hard work and great enthusiasm has paid off. We are looking forward to a crop of vegetable that we can share with the different Stages around the school before the end of term. This project has been a rewarding and difficult process for the Stage 3 children, it really showed how they value the practical life aspects and working with their hands to create things that will remain part of the school for many years to come.

The children of Stage 3 feel like they have designed and constructed something that will be sustainable and continue to give to the school community.
We are all looking forward to seeing what crops are going to sprout up over the next few weeks.

Amy and Michael